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How to Install XP after Vista and Fix the Bootloader


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To install an older Windows operating system on a computer running Windows Vista, use the following procedure.

  1. Install the previous version of Windows, e.g. XP or 2000
  2. Log on to the older operating system and restore the latest boot manager by running the following.
    bootsect.exe -NT60 All

    bootsect.exe might be in your boot folder of active partition. If not there, then it's on your Vista DVD in boot folder.

  3. Create a BCD entry for the older operating system by specifying the following. Bcdedit.exe is located in the \Windows\System32 directory of the Windows Vista partition. Description is the description of the new entry for the older operating system.
    Bcdedit /create {legacy} /d “Description”
    Bcdedit /set {legacy} device boot
    Bcdedit /set {legacy} path \ntldr
    Bcdedit /displayorder {legacy} /addlast

  4. Restart the computer in order for the changes to take effect.

Edited by spacesurfer
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You can use a third party program like EasyBCD or VistaBootPro, but apparently, behind the screens, both programs run this command to restore the bootloader. Go to your EasyBCD installation folder and you'll find bootsect.exe.

Also, if you want to revert back to XP's bootloader, then run

bootsect.exe -nt52


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  • 3 weeks later...

I had no problem at all installing XP alongside a pre-installed Vista on my HP nc6320 laptop. I used EasyBCD successfully. On the other hand, I get stuck right from the start, when I try to do the same thing on a Dell Inspiron 6400.

When I reach the point where XP installer asks where the XP partition should be located and I select an unallocated area (same problem appears even if I create and format an empty partition beforehand and select it), I get the following error message : “To install Windows XP on the selected partition, installation program must copy certain boot files on Disk 0 with ID 0 on bus 0 on atapi [MBR]. However, this disk does not contain a partition compatible with Windows XP”.

I don’t know whether this has to do with the SATA disk. On the HP, I disabled SATA Native Support in the BIOS and everything went fine. In the Dell Bios, I found no equivalent option.

How can I create a “compatible partition” ?

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How did you create your partition beforehand? Did you use Vista? If so, partitions created by Vista are no longer compatible with Windows XP.

See this: Vista's New Partitioning Rules.

It's best to create you partition with a third party utility. I would prefer using BartPE with Sherpya's XPE plugin to use XP's disk management console to do it.

However, I don't understand why you can't install on unallocated space. During XP setup, trying deleting the unallocated space and create a new partition and use XP to format it as NTFS it you are able to.

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I used Acronis Disk Director to create the partition. This was done under Vista. Maybe I should use the Acronis Boot Loader and create the partition from this "neutral" environment.

What should I use EasyBCD for in this situation?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to mention I have the OEM Vista64 version and bootsect.exe is not included on the install disc nor could I find it on my vista partition. I had easybcd installed so I had a copy but it wouldn't run in the Vista64 recovery CLI console. There is another utility on that is available on the recovery console called bootrec that has options to fix the mbr and other things.

Edited by LurkerLito
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  • 6 months later...

Just wanted to add that if you only have 64bit vista dvd, you will only have the 64bit version of bootsect,exe so if a 32bit system is installed, you need to get the 32bit to be able to follow this guide.


Edited by Louie
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